ISLAMABAD   -    The government has asked the Facebook management to remove anti-polio contents available on its accounts. Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio eradication Babar Bin Atta requested the Facebook’s management to block or manage the dissemination of such anti-vaccination propaganda from their platforms operating from within Pakistan. He said that the harmful content is not just jeopardising polio eradication initiative but also putting the lives of our anti-polio vaccinators at risk.

According to official correspondence signed by PM’s Focal Person on Polio eradication, expressed appreciation for Facebook’s policies and regulations dealing with hateful content and propaganda.

A statement issued from the National Emergency Operations Centre said that it is high time that Pakistan takes strict measures to regulate vaccine related harmful content available on social media to address the misconceptions about polio vaccine. The parental refusal due to propaganda on Facebook regarding the vaccine is emerging as the major obstacle in achieving complete eradication of the virus. It said that Pakistan has made great strides in eradicating polio, however, concerns of vaccine safety and efficacy fueled by anti-vaccine propaganda on social media have generated a high number of vaccine refusals from parents and children reported as missing during immunization campaigns.

Effectively communicating and inspiring refusal communities to support the programme is essential in order to close immunity gaps and ultimately end virus transmission in the country.

National Polio Eradication Programme has compiled a sample report of some of the Facebook pages and provided them to the head of public policy of Facebook. These pages have been engaging in harmful propaganda against vaccination in particular and generally about the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme.

The content shared within this report is in violation of Facebook’s policies as per its community standards, particularly its clause referring to Integrity and authenticity.

The letter said that this content stands to incite harm and violence against polio workers, and may further deteriorate the programme’s coverage of vulnerable children and their subsequent immunity against the polio virus.